The judges have spoken, naming 26 finalists in the second annual Stellar StartUps competition sponsored by the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.
A total of 86 early-stage businesses divided among eight categories were rated on three criteria: overall concept; economic impact; and profitability/revenue potential. The maximum possible points were 25.
The categories and their finalists are:
• Stellar StartUps Alumni: MilkCrate; Social Detection; StratIS.
• Health Care/Life Sciences: Keriton; Picwell; Prevnos; TowerView Health; Trice Medical; Tx3 Services.
• Just Plain Cool Idea: CourtVision; Gossamer Games; Homemade Gin Kit.
• Minority/Women Entrepreneur: Casa de Sante; NeedsList; the Green Program; Therapeutic Articulations; Tozuda.
• Products/Services: A View From My Seat; College Affordability; LeagueSide.
• Students: Boost Linguistics; LittleBags.BigImpact.
• Technology: Asset-Map; NeuroFlow; Photosonix Medical.
• Food/Restaurant: Because businesses scoring fewer than 14 points were eliminated from consideration, this category has just one finalist. Consequently, we can announce that the first winner in the 2017 Stellar StartUps competition is Mavuno Harvest, a Nicetown company launched in 2012 that works with small African farming cooperatives to help get their organic dried fruit from the continent's rural sub-Sahara to U.S. consumers.
Winners in the seven other categories will be announced Sept. 12 at an event open to the public at the Franklin Institute's Fels Planetarium from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at http://www.philly.com/stellarstartups.
"In year two, we received yet again another strong response to our nomination call," said Jennifer Wolf, director of special events for Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of the newspapers and website. "Our program mission is to recognize as many start-ups as we can, and I'm thrilled that we have increased the amount of honorees to 26 from 18 last year due to the addition of new categories — alumni and food/restaurant — and the expansion of the students category to include young entrepreneurs."
The youngest of the finalists is 12-year-old Anna Welsh of Wynnewood, who will be entering seventh grade at Welsh Valley Middle School in Gladwyne this fall. Her company, LittleBags.BigImpact. makes clutch purses from vintage resourced materials, with 15 percent of proceeds donated to Tree House Books, a giving library and literacy center in North Philadelphia.
Over the next six weeks, a number of Stellar StartUps finalists will be profiled on Philly.com and in the Inquirer's Business section. The 26 companies represent varied, creative, and, in some cases, life-saving ventures. They include the use of biometric data to analyze mental stimulation, a TripAdvisor of sorts for concert, theater, and sporting event venues, and the manufacture of safety sensors that enable detection of impacts and accelerations — in sports, construction and shipping, for example — with the use of red dye rather than electronics.